Kidsty Pike

Published 12 November 2017

The view from the summit of Kidsty Pike = lots of hills and the odd bit of water too.
Kidsty Pike offers a cracking view of the world beyond the Lakeland fells

Leaving Patterdale, Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk passes by several of the Far Eastern Fells. For my second day walking in the Patterdale area, I followed it, visiting seven different fells along its route. My last one of the day was Kidsty Pike, a place that should have been familiar to me. Should have been…

The year is 2010. I am walking the Coast to Coast with my partner, Catherine. We’re in the Lake District section of the trail, heading away from Patterdale. We have been walking just four days. In those four days we have had a years worth of rain. In those four days I have learned that my walking boots leak water. Badly.

I am stumbling downhill in the rain, feeling my soaks soaking up all the water that’s getting inside my walking boots. My feet start sliding around inside them, making each step fifteen times more difficult than it should be.

I am miserable and yet. Very wet. I feel like I’m going to slip, probably quite badly. And if I do, I won’t be able to stop myself. I’ll probably injure myself quite badly. Mountain Rescue will have to come out to help.

I am in a dark mood. A mood where if a helicopter had suddenly appeared in front of me and offered to lift me out of this hellhole, I’d take it. Even if their condition of doing so was that I never came back to this hillside ever again. I would readily have accepted.

As it happened, no helicopter came.

The approach to Kidsty Pike from High Raise
The walk from High Raise is not a ridge walk, just a walk

What you may or may not be aware of about the Coast to Coast isn’t just one single route. For its stretch through the Lake District, Alfred Wainwright documented several variants. These variants allow walkers to opt to visit the summits of some of the fells that they’re walking near. Some of them, like The Knott, are only minor detours. Others require a greater amount of effort to visit. But anyone who isn’t that fussed about bagging fells, or who wants a safer route in bad weather, can opt to follow the main “lower level” route.

This lower level route just concentrates on providing a good, solid, well made path for people to follow. And most people do. Relatively few Coast-to-Coasters take the variants. Most just follow the main route as it ignores all the glitzy excitment of fell tops.

Well, mostly ignores. For the main route does take in the top of one of the Lake District’s summits. Everyone walking the Coast to Coast passes right past it. There’s not even a tiny detour to take to get to the top of it. The summit cairn is right on to the main path.

That fell is Kidsty Pike.

Kidsty Pike. The fell where in 2010, I found my walking boots full of water, and where I found myself convinced that I was going to slip and go rolling down the hill in a giant front roll, before splashing into the water of the reservoir below.

Funnily enough, even though I’d been there before, I have never felt like I did Kidsty Pike properly. Yes, I’d been there. I was sure I’d even paused next to the cairn that marks the summit, for a minute or two. But it didn’t feel proper. In fact, I barely remembered it.

I kept saying to myself that I’d go back. Return in a better mood, rather than just feeling utterly miserable. One where I could appreciate Kidsty Pike for what it was. And so when I found myself near it again seven years later, that’s exactly what I did.

From where I was on High Raise, Kidsty Pike is a simple walk. One that’s barely a mile in length. If that. It’s not actually a ridge walk because Kidsty Pike and High Raise are both on different ridges – just ones that meet up at Rampsgill Head. However there’s a well worth path between the two. One that is a simple meander. All grass and loveliness.

The summit cairn at Kidsty Pike
Subtle or easily missed are excellent descriptions of the summit of Kidsty Pike

It was a path I followed dutifully until I reached the summit. Kidsty Pike’s summit. Kidsty Pike’s simple, cairn topped summit. And it wasn’t much. Truth be told, I wasn’t surprised I hadn’t remembered much about it from my last visit. For the top of Kidsty Pike is a simple one. It has a small rocky crown, with a cairn marking its summit that is almost blink-and-you’d-miss-it. If you hadn’t known you were visiting the top of a Lakeland fell, you’d barely notice it at all. The Coast to Coast route is lined with many cairns, some far more impressive than this.

In fact, if I’m honest, Kidsty Pike doesn’t even feel much like a separate fell. Really it is just part of Rampsgill Head. A secondary summit, nothing more. But for whatever reason, it’s been classed by most people as a standalone entity, and Wainwright certainly didn’t disagree.

But don’t argue too long about its status. For if you do, you’ll miss the view. The most noticeable element of this is the view of Haweswater, the massive reservoir built to the disgust of Alfred Wainwright, by submerging farmsteads and an apparently excellent pub in Mardale. It was all done in the apparent greater good of providing the city of Manchester with clean drinking water. And speaking as someone who has resided in the city’s suburbs for (at time of writing) 43% of my life, I confess to rather appreciating the gloriously soft water that the city gets from the reservoirs of the Lakes and the Pennines. There’s something rather magical about knowing that your drinking water may have travelled over a hundred miles to get to you. I’m sure the pub at Mardale was lovely. But so is the water.

I tried not to think to much about it though. Instead I thought more about the injustice I’d done to Kidsty Pike all these years. And I felt thankful that that mysterious helicopter with its demands as payback for rescue, never arrived. For if it had, I wouldn’t have got to enjoy Kidsty Pike seven years later.


Judi Wicking

29 December 2019 at 6:57 am

Hi there and how beautifully you have written of your experience of Kidsty Pike! We enjoyed the C 2 C walk in June 2019 and our memory of K P is a blur of cloud, wind, freezing temperatures and limited visibility. It was indeed “perilous” ! Maybe we need to revisit in a few years however it’s a long way from Australia to repeat the adventure. On reflection it was the most challenging part of our long walk although has provided much interesting conversation when asked about C2C walk.

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